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Labor shortage still an issue in Alabama, even with low unemployment rate

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It seems like “Help Wanted” or “We’re Hiring” signs are popping up in every other store or restaurant in Alabama, but in the latest Alabama Department of Labor report, our state’s unemployment rate isn’t too bad, especially when you compare it to the entire country.

So how does that make sense?

WBRC checked in with the Department of Labor Friday to break down the numbers for us. The state’s unemployment rate from August to September stayed steady at 3.1 percent, well below last September’s rate of 6.7 percent.

Since last September, we’ve seen our unemployment numbers drop by 78,790 people.

But here’s the catch: less unemployment doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the labor shortage.

“You’ve still got a fear of COVID that’s keeping people from working. Childcare is most definitely an issue. And not only childcare, but eldercare,” said Tara Hutchison with ADOL. “Sadly, you’ve had a significant number of Alabamians who have passed away. We’ve also seen retirements, where some of our workers who were close to retirement, or maybe had a handful of years left before they could retire, because of the pandemic, they decided to go ahead and retire now.”

Some of the cities with the lowest unemployment rates are Alabaster, Homewood, and Vestavia Hills at just 2 percent.

Bessemer has some of the highest unemployment at 6.2 percent.

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